The National Catholic Review

A new survey from the Pew Forum shows that President Obama is widening his lead over GOP nominee Mitt Romney among likely Catholic voters, a group the president won in 2008.

Among all Catholics, the president leads 54-39%, though both candidates are about tied among white Catholics.

Religion News Service points out that the Romney campaign just unveiled a list of prominent Catholic supporters, dubbed the Catholics for Romney Coalition, headlined by five former US ambassadors to the Holy See. Mitt Romney praised the Catholic Church in a press release:

The Catholic Church embodies all that is great about America—loving your neighbor, defending life, and helping the less fortunate to overcome poverty and rise in the world. Forming a more perfect union requires that we continue to turn these principles into reality. If I am elected president, that will be my highest priority.

Earlier this year, Obama announced his Catholic steering committee, which includes some names well known among progressive Catholic circles. Obama also released a video specifically targeted toward Catholic voters, hitting heavily on themes of collective values. Watch that video below.

Michael J. O’Loughlin


Tim O'Leary | 10/3/2012 - 4:31pm
Sandi #35
Thanks for giving me the last word, and for scanning my last post, although I think you missed the sensus fidelium part, as defined in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium. I think the sensus fidelium concept has taken a life of its own in some quarters, as an alternative magisterium when one does not like the official teaching. My point is that that interpretation is a) not justified by VCII, and b) is in any case completely unworkable in deciding disputed questions. To give it such an authority is no better than the protestant idea of individual interpretation, however dressed up in theological language.

I read your whole #58 post. I see that we agree on a lot, such as the inhumanity of abortion, the cry of the extremely poor in the underdeveloped world and the need for a strong safety net at home (including government social assistance programs, and abroad –e.g., I was very much in favor of the unprecedentedly large financial aid President Bush sent to Africa for HIV treatment and prevention, and social assistance programs at home). Whenever possible, I prefer private Catholic assistance programs, like CRS and Catholic Charities, and Catholic schools, both because they are more efficient with their resources, but more importantly, because they seek to do good in the name of Jesus.

We differ on some important moral issues and on their impact on a person’s spiritual health - even when we do not agree with people, we should still care for them. We also differ on how one comes to know the truth of the matter in theological and moral issues. I really do not want to work out everything by myself, in part because I know my self-interest will likely lead me astray, but also, because I really want to listen to Jesus, through the Church, and find the real Truth that way.
Sandi Sinor | 10/3/2012 - 1:57pm
Tim, I am VERY busy right now and do not have the time to continue this see-saw as I have several committments coming up that will take some time. However, I see that when I posted and edited, I somehow obliterated the source for Newman - it was the final edition of The Rambler (1859) that he edited after being fired by the bishops. The title is ''On Consulting the Faithful on Matters of Doctrine.''

Only skimmed your post as I am running out the door and trying to say a lot in little time - but, quick question, would you say the church's current teaching on birth control is ''shared by all the faithful'' - including all the laity? Or do you automatically disqualify as ''Catholic'' anyone who believes that modern birth control is a gift from God rather than an ''intrinsic evil'' as taught by the church authorities, thereby removing them from the ''faithful'' whose ''sensus'' should be taken into account by the PTB?

BTW, it would be good if you would drop the silliness about everyone who disagrees with a church teaching simply disagreeing because it's ''cool.'' This ongoing discussion is becoming equally silly, as evidenced by your request for a source for my 1% comment.

Of course I can't give you a statistically valid source for my estimate that only 1%  of self-identified Catholics in any given poll would deny statements in the creed. (statistically accurate to 3 percent + or -.  I'm being facetious of course - maybe you should contact Vince for a little statistical sampling tutoring though). It is an estimate off the top of my head, based on basic common sense and simple reasoning - people who care enough to self-identify as Catholic in a poll (even if they are lowly, cultural Catholics who would not be included in your exclusive little defined-by-Tim-O'Leary ''Catholic'' club)  most likely accept the basics of christian belief even if dissenting against selected current teachings. Otherwise, lived experience of people who don't accept the basic tenets of christianity leads to reasoning that most would just say ''agnostic'' or ''athiest'' or ''none.'' Can you provide any reference that would ''prove'' that those who self-identify as Catholic to Pew Researchers aren't Catholic?

The whole point of this lengthy exchange, Tim is that YOU are not in a position to define who is a ''real'' Catholic and who isn't just because you don't like the results of a pre-election poll.

The reason I bowed out before is because I know from experience that you like to have the last word. So, please, feel free to post again, knowing that it is the last word.  Maybe in that post you will tell me the basis for your early (and premature because I had said nothing at all at that point about what I personally believe as a Catholic or as a voter) judgment that I am a ''liberal''.  But, I'll save you the trouble.

You made a judgment about me, and you made this judgment without any factual basis- apparently   because I challenged your statement that the poll was ''wrong'' because it wasn't limited to ''real'' Catholics. You judged me as a ''liberal'' simply because I challenged you, just as you judged those Catholics who told Pew that they currently plan to vote for Obama as not being ''real'' Catholics. Apparently for you, the litmus test for being a ''real' Catholic in America in 2012 is a resolve to vote for Romney for President.

 Frankly, I in the election, I really dislike the choice facing us - it is a lousy choice, but as responsible citizens, we have to choose. As an economist, I tend towards the fiscally conservative side of things, and I believe that Romney is the stronger candidate as far as being experienced and competent enough to come up with a realistic plan to strengthen the US economy and, by extension, the ''world'' economy  -and by extension or trickle down or whatever you want, help the unemployed and poor. I am also a big ''social justice'' Catholic too, very concerned about the poor - especially in the third world (my sub-specialty is international development economics) and find some of the tension between social justice and real world economics to be very difficult to negotiate. It's not simple and it's not black and white and very often it comes down to ''second-best'' being possible and utopia not being possible. I do believe government has an important role, and I also believe that capitalism, as imperfect as it is, has resulted in the most positive outcomes for the most people, but that doesn't mean absolute ''laissez faire'' is the right way to go. The economies of Scandinavia have generally been very solid and effective, but their model of combining capitalism with extensive social safety nets most likely wouldn't ''work'' here because of the big differences in demographics and history of the populaces as well as ''personality'' of the countries..  It's a very difficult balance and there is no single formula that works everywhere. But, I guess being a ''social justice' Catholic might mean to you that I am a ''liberal'' Catholic.  And I also think that anyone who believes that the social safety nets should not be maintained by the govt. or that private charity alone can support them is living in a fantasy world. 

I also think the bishops' ''religious liberty'' campaign is a sham, the campaign against gay civil marriage a waste of time and money (nobody has come up with a valid reason why two people who live together in a committed relationship that becomes a ''legal'' relationship threatens heterosexual marriage or the family - it's another sham campaign), abortion is a horror, but no Republican president is going to change it if the electorate as a whole doesn't support such a change, and since we do live in a country that prizes religious freedom, and not a theocracy, any particular religious group does not have the right constitutionally to impose their beliefs on the whole population - etc. None of these issues is the primary influence on my vote in this election but are simply pieces of a bigger and not totally coherent picture. There is not a single candidate out there who supports EVERY single current Roman Catholic position on the issues (including bishops) - ranging from immigration reform and making capital punishment illegal to ''gay marriage'' etc.

 I discount almost all campaign rhetoric on both sides and never watch TV. I read a lot though. Both candidates are serious and intelligent men, and I don't think either of them wears horns or are as ''evil'' as the opponents of both of them sometimes paint them. Both know that some serious work has to be done. Pray that whoever wins can find a few leaders in both parties in the Congress who remember what ''compromise'' means. There have been no successors to the very effective behind the scenes team of John McCain and Ted Kennedy, who worked together mostly out of sight to move things along and whoever is the President might have to use his office to lean on these people a bit - especially in his own party. The obstructionism is on both sides and those who are supposed to represent this COUNTRY had better stop just trying to represent the most extreme (and deep pocket) parts of their respective parties. They need to start worrying more about the country than their own next re-election campaigns.

I don't think Obama is an evil socialist, nor do I believe the ''real'' Romney is the knee-jerk extreme conservative he is trying to pretend to be in order to mollify the far right in his party. In fact, he may learn that this strategy costs him the election. His record in Massachusetts indicates that if he becomes President, he will be open to compromise and be more moderate than the extreme right-wing of his party hopes he will be. He was able to work effectively with a majority Democratic legislature and actually get a few things done. Yes, he has ''flip-flopped'' just as Obama has. And he is, for me, not an ''ideal'' candidate - just the lesser of two electoral choice ''evils''.  That's the real world of politics, folks. Candidates have to get nominated and then win. And they often pander to selected groups within the electorate to do so - BOTH sides do this. There is no purity in politics.

So, now you know. Since I don't plan to post again I will just say this - under your litmus test, I guess I may be a''real'' Catholic since I don't plan to vote for Obama. Of course, I might change my mind by November too. I try to keep it (my mind) open.  I also have many REAL Catholic friends who plan to vote for Obama. And they are just as ''Catholic'' as you are.

Tim O'Leary | 10/2/2012 - 5:33pm
Sandi #53
You keep judging my arguments and also complaining that it is wrong to judge. Can't you see the circular inconsistency of your argument? You also inserted quotes about Newman but didn't give the source. Do you have the reference for Newman's words and the selection you inserted?

In any case, I think the question of sensus fidelium is a good one, so I will try to address that. It is useful in understanding a term to go to the official source of it. So, I went to the Catechism and the documents of Vatican II for the meaning of sensus fidei. Here is a quote from the Catechism (CCC 92-93)
 ''The whole body of the faithful. . . cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals. By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),. . . receives. . . the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. . . the People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.”
The catechism references Lumen Gentium 12, which says the following: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ''from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful'' they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. “
Note that both references to the sensus fidei refer not to doctrinal disputes but to universally shared beliefs, including the Bishops, and guided by the sacred teaching authority of the Magisterium. I interpret this to mean that we must look to the Magisterium for guidance in areas that are under dispute, per Jesus' promise to Peter (Mt 16).
The idea that doctrinal disputes or new teaching on doctrine or morals (such as contraception, abortion, homosexual practice, etc.) could come from a subset of the laity, against the teaching authority of the Church, has no authoritative basis that I know of. But also, it is completely unworkable in practice. We can’t come up with new doctrine based on polling or practice of a subset of rich Westerners. Imagine the abuse of inaccurate polling that we have just been discussing above. How much of a majority would we need? A supermajority or just a majority of the cool people? Do we include children? Are clergy excluded? Can you even begin to show a practical method for your position?

Or, maybe we don't need a poll if we can just guess what the answer will be. You estimate that only 1% of people self-identifying as Catholics would say Jesus was not God. Can you give me the reference to that 1% number or should I just take your guess as part of the sensus fidelium? What if they didn't believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Should we include the openly unfaithful as a reliable source for the sense of the faithful? Even the Episcopalians couldn't accept this yardstick.
Sandi Sinor | 10/2/2012 - 5:48am
SO, Tim,'s all the pope? The pope is THE church and the magesterium and the sensus fidelium must go along with the pope [essentially gutting any meaning from either].  Wow - given the history of the church and given the reality of some of the truly evil men who sometimes were pope, I would hope that you wouldn't choose to be ''in communion'' with all of them.  BTW, it is interesting that you bring up the Arian heresy, as it is the one chosen by Newman to illustrate why the church should '' [On] Consult
...Newman returned to a subject on which he was unquestionably the world’s leading authority: the fourth-century Arian heresy ...  Newman showed, the overwhelming number of bishops and dozens of regional church councils dismissed the Nicene formula and embraced Arianism. Even Pope Liberius signed a pro-Arian statement, though probably under pressure.
Role of the laity
So great and so widespread was the Arian position, said Newman, that it would surely have become official Catholic doctrine, except for one thing: the Catholic laity. In Europe, Asia, and the Middle East they dissented from what their priests, their bishops, even their pope was proposing. ...
To quote Newman himself
I shall set down some authorities for the two points successively, which I have to enforce, viz. that the Nicene dogma was maintained during the greater part of the 4th century,
    1. not by the unswerving firmness of the Holy See, Councils, or Bishops, but
    2. by the ''consensus fidelium.''
...The body of Bishops failed ; ... There were untrustworthy Councils, unfaithful Bishops; there was weakness, fear of consequences, misguidance, delusion, hallucination, endless, hopeless, extending itself into nearly every corner of the Catholic Church.

Some of this stuff about the bishops sounds all too familiar  today.

As far as determining who is ''Catholic'' I hold with self-identification even if it is imperfect. Any questionnaire you could come up with would also be imperfect. Your litmus test question about Christ's divinity would probably be answered in the affirmative by 99% of those who self-identify as Catholic, so weeding out the 1% would not impact the results. I think that if people feel Catholic (something Bruce Snowden often brings up) then who are you to judge? There is NO set of questions that can ''weed'' out people who aren't ''Catholic'' Catholics. Even excommunication is not definitive. One recent example - Mother Mary MacKillop of Australia who was excommunicated by her bishop, and canonized by Benedict in 2010. SO - was she Catholic before she was excommunicated? Did the pope consider her to be a Catholic? Was she Catholic when she was an excommunicant?
And even though it took hundreds of years, the church has grudgingly conceded that Luther was right on almost every (maybe every as of a couple of years ago) point he made about the needed reforms in the church. They threw him out because of his dissent - just like they threw out Mary MacKillop - but they were wrong.  Being Catholic does not depend on the opinion of other Catholics who have appointed themselves the arbiters of who is ''Catholic'' enough for them to call them ''Catholic.'' Henry VIII may have been Catholic, but if I were to judge him (which is not my right), I would say he wasn't a Christian.

Tim why do you feel that you are qualified to judge who is Catholic and who isn't? 
And Tim. How can I get the ''trivial'' question of your judgment that I am a liberal "off the table"
Tim O'Leary | 10/2/2012 - 12:16am
Vince #51
I'm sure the bank would have a harder test than is used in the soft social sciences. My profession is in the hard sciences, so I tend to require stronger proof than simple self-identification. As to the strength of polling data, see this CNN report that all 3 polls in the last 24 hours are showing a much tighter race (within the 3% margin of error). Did people change their minds in the last week or did the selection process of respondents change?

Sandi #50
I knew you would return, since it's hard to ask 10 questions and leave. And it's better to discuss this in the blog rather than email so others can follow (or just as easily stop reading - it would be strange if they kept coming back only to be bored).  Thanks for the encouragement in your 2nd paragraph but you haven't really answered my question. Colleen said people who are atheists might self-identify as Catholics (worldview etc.) but my second question on the divinity of Jesus would weed them out and produce a more accurate poll result, even if we could go further with better follow-on questions. In no place did I suggest dropping the self-identifying as the first question, so even Evangelicals who have more faith in many parts of Catholic doctrine than cultural 'Catholics' (such as the Nicene creed and the moral law) would not confuse the result. 

You said something revealing about the SSPX, that you were not sure how someone can be in schism and still be a Catholic. What if they are excommunicated? I suppose the latter would even be stronger. Or, do you insist that Martin Luther or Henry VIII were also Catholics since they self-identified as such?

Now to sensus fidelium. This cannot be an alternative magisterium to the Pope, but, like the Bishops, is real only when in communion with the pope. (Again, see the pesky Vatican II documents and the Catechism). How else could it work - by more polling of self-identifying Catholics? For example, at one time, a majority of Christians were swayed by the teaching of Arius that Jesus was less than God. Was the truth with the magisterium or with the majority?

As to your repeated liberal question, why don't you answer this in your next post and get this trivial question off the table?
Vince Killoran | 10/1/2012 - 9:32pm
"Try it next time you are at a bank. And yell at them if they ask for some proof of identification."

Would the bank ask you if you are a "commited" customer or just a "cultural" one?!

I was writing as a social scientist who knows something about designing surverys. Probing levels of commitment and identity to groups etc. are done with different types of in-depth studies, not the kind of poll Pew conducted.  Plus, the wording would not be the one you provided.

Check out 
Sandi Sinor | 10/1/2012 - 8:06pm
OK, I am un-bowed out. If you wish to continue to discuss, I am game. Or you can send me an email and we can continue offline if everyone else is dead bored with all this.

Tim, you're getting closer. You missed at least one - the sensus fidelium, which ties into definition of church. I wasn't really looking for a catechism answer, but the cited sections of the catechism are sufficiently vague that most self-identified Catholics could go along with it. What I was really looking for is this - does ''THE church'' consist of only members of the hierarchy? Of all clergy? Or all clergy, including hierarchy, as well as the 1.1 billion people in the pews?  And if ''THE'' church does indeed consist of all - clergy and not clergy, the people of God - does the Holy Spirit speak through THE church or only through a handful of men in the Vatican? SO, about the sensus fidelium....?

Yes you defined ''liberal'' and ''conservative'' - and I acknowledged that definition in an earlier post - but what I asked you still have not answered - the basis for your judgment that I, Sandi, am a ''liberal''. I also asked if you think I am a ''liberal'' in the church, or in the political realm or in both and why you have made this judgment?

  I asked the question about EENS because you dodged the Hans Kung questions regarding whether or not he is ''Catholic'' (whether he would be excluded from your pool of Catholics under your litmus test). You said that only God could judge Kung - judge him on what? - as being a ''Catholic'' Catholic for the poll? I did not ask you about the state of his soul which only God can judge. It is not God who is deciding who is ''Catholic'' enough to qualify as ''Catholic'' in a Pew Research poll. After your response to a question I did not ask, I wondered if perhaps you believed that only people that God ''judged'' to be ''Catholic'' Catholics could ''go to heaven.''  Hence the question about EENS. It was the outcome of the train of thoughts set in motion by your non-answer to my question.

BTW, yes, I do believe that Paul Ryan is a Catholic and could self-identify as one in a poll. I also believe that Hans Kung could be included in the universe of self-identified Catholics but he won't be called as he is not an American citizen. I think that George Weigel is Catholic also, as was Edward Kennedy and as is Joe Biden.  I believe that Justice Roberts is a Catholic, as are Justices Scalia and Sotomayer (and the other Catholic justices as well).

Would you exclude any of these people from the pool of self-identified Catholics in the Pew poll?  If so, on what basis would you exclude them?

Your comment about answers to a poll not being well-received on this blog if the pollsters would just narrow the universe of self-identified Catholics according to some kind of ''real Catholic'' litmus test assumes that such a litmus test is possible. Since it is not even possible, how can you conclude anything at all about what the results might be - much less how they would be received by various people? 

Sorry that I wasn't clear enough - when you included various doctrines found in the creed and accepted by most of christianity in your litmus test of questions, I did not directly say - ''YES - for someone to be a Catholic, belief in Christ's divinity is expected''. Instead I pointed out that belief in Christ's divinity is accepted by almost all christians, and thus would not really help you in identifying those whom you believe have the ''right'' to self-identify as Catholic and those who don't. Most christians would answer ''yes'' to that question and most christians are not Catholic under almost anybody's definition including their own - they are Protestant for the most part, and some are Orthodox.  I doubt that you would include all of the christians who believe in Christ's divinity in your ''Catholic'' universe since it seems you don't even want to include most Catholics - those who don't think as you do - as being ''Catholic''. It does seem that you would rather include evangelical Protestants in the poll as being ''real'' ''Catholics'' than most Catholics, though. Unfortunately for your purposes, that's not possible.

Are members of SSPX ''Catholic''? I don't know, but I would assume so. They are officially schismatic, although I guess the pope did drop his excommunications of the bishops. I'm not sure how someone can be officially in schism but still a ''Catholic'', but I am not an expert in canon law. When ''liberal'' Catholics reject some current Catholic teachings it seems you would exclude them from your pool of ''Catholics'' when it comes to pollsters. So, would you exclude members of SSPX who also reject selected teachings as well as reject the authority of the pope?

Great point though, about both SSPX and Kung rejecting infallibility and yet still being Catholic. It is great because it means that in spite of a lot of saber-rattling (so to speak) in some quarters of the church, it seems that one can withhold assent to ALL current official teachings and still be Catholic.  Good news indeed for all modern heretics, ranging from SSPX to Kung and all those self-identified Catholics who might flunk your litmus test. Primacy of conscience lives! Too late for Joan of Arc and Galileo and some of the other heretics of times past, but at least the church seems to be still inching forwards, even if it is two steps forward and one step back (lately it seems like two forward and three backward, but your observation about SSPX and Kung give hope.)

Tim O'Leary | 10/1/2012 - 4:41pm
Vince #45
You state that self-identification of Catholics is useful because it is time-tested, as if the repeated use of a question somehow revealed its accuracy. But, that hasn’t been done and we don’t accept it in any profession or practice. Try it next time you are at a bank. And yell at them if they ask for some proof of identification.

Sandi #46
You bow out with a beration that I haven't answered all your questions to me, when you never actually answered my questions to you (such as do Catholics have to believe Jesus is God to be Catholic?). I count ten questions in your last post but most of them are related to your unwillingness to get your head around the idea of a distinction between an intellectual judgment and judging a person’s soul. I addressed this in #40 and #44.

I addressed Hans Kung above, in particular my refusal to judge the state of his soul, but I would like to hear him respond to the resurrection question. I also note that he wants to keep the SSPX Christians out. Why is he so intolerant? That seems to be highly judgmental. Intellectually speaking, I would put him in the same boat as the SSPX, but on the opposite side (both reject papal infallibility). Would you judge SSPX as non-Catholic? Or Paul Ryan? (you never answered that either).

I addressed the liberal/conservative question in #40

As regards your 3 questions on my proposed one, you act like I presented it as the definitive question, whereas I did not. I based my (intellectual) estimate that the answer would not be well received on this blog because I have been reading it for nearly a year. I could be wrong, but, I think the reaction from you, Vince and Marie in 45-47 suggests it would not be well-received here.

On EENS (Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus), where did that question come from? Anyway, I believe that many non-Christians who lead moral lives (according to the natural law - see Matt 25) will be saved on Judgment Day, but only by Christ, who will judge them. The Church teaches this (see CCC 845-851).

On defining the Church, I accept the Catechism definitions in sections 836-838, which speaks about those fully incorporated (doctrine and practice, CCC 837) into the Church founded by Christ with Peter as the first Pope. The Catechism also describes those who are not in full doctrinal communion but still accept Christ (CCC 838). It also addresses non-Christians following those paragraphs. I accept this interpretation.

Marie Rehbein | 10/1/2012 - 12:35pm

Apparently some respondents are under the delusion that the people sitting with them in church think exactly the way they do.
Sandi Sinor | 10/1/2012 - 12:30pm
Tim, I will bow out with this post  - that these self-identified Catholics must not be ''Catholic'' - in your personal definition of 'Catholic''. After you concluded [judged] that I must be a ''liberal'' I asked you how you came to this conclusion - and you have not answered that either.

In your most recent post you made another sweeping judgment and concluded that asking self-identified Catholics in a political poll about whether or not they are a ''cultural'' or ''committed'' Catholics would produce results that ''this blog would not like''.  What is your basis for that conclusion?  How do you know what the results of posing such a question would be? How do you know that ''this blog'' would not like the results? There are some logical fallacies in just that partial sentence alone that would take a while to work through.

  The simplistic ''solution'' to the self-identified Catholic issue is not a solution. Now instead of somebody (who?) developing a set of questions as a litmus test for ''Catholics'' among the Catholics polled, you have reduced it to a single question. But, that doesn't work either.  Different Catholics would define ''being a committed Catholic'' .... differently. For you, it seems to come down to: belief in the creed, opposition to women's ordination; opposition to civil marriage for gays; weekly mass attendance; annual confession and a few other practices and beliefs. Others would offer far more complex, nuanced and, possibly, scholarly definitions.

Many would disagree with your list as being the ''legitimate'' definers of ''Catholic'' - and they would be just as ''committed'' Catholics as you claim to be.

You have not answered questions about your belief - or disbelief - in EENS. You have not answered the question about how you define ''the church.'' You have not answered the question about your views of the sensus fidelium. You have not answered the questions about Hans Kung - although now that you have simplified your litmust test to a single question, it raises a new one regarding Fr. Kung. I would guess he would tell a Pew Research pollster that he is a ''committed'' Catholic rather than a ''cultural'' Catholic - would you agree?

I leave you with the questions already asked and would love to read your answers. But one more - why do you avoid answering these questions?
Vince Killoran | 10/1/2012 - 11:09am
When the polls run our way we embrace them and when they go against us we find heaps of fault with the pollsters and the polled.

Tim suggests that pollsters ask  “'Do you consider yourself a believing committed Catholic or a cultural Catholic?'” That would be very informative and not hard to do, though I don't think this blog would like the result.

It would not be informative and it would be impossible to do.  It is a terrible idea that social scientists would reject for a multitude of reasons. The time-tested practice is to allow those being polled to self-identify. Can you imagine the imprecision and bias in doing what Tim recommends with race, ethnic, gender, religious, political, etc. self-identification? Constrasting (and arriving at a definition of)  "believing committed" versus "cultural" would be absurd.

Why write "I don't think this blog would like the result"?  It must be cold comfort to huddle with the few & chosen and think that fellow Catholics aren't "real" Catholics.  
Tim O'Leary | 9/30/2012 - 8:26pm
I agree that the way the Pew Forum asked the question includes answers from atheists who were born Catholic. But, do we know how many atheists, agnostics, and indifferentists were in the Pew poll? How many are completely ignorant of the faith, and how many differ on key doctrinal issues? Could it be over half? If so, how is it scientifically honest for the Pew Forum to make a summary statement ''Catholics believe…,” using this question? If they also added in the poll that 30% of respondents who said they were Catholic also said they did not believe in God or haven’t gone to Church in over 5 years, wouldn’t that put a more realistic gloss on their poll for the general public reading their results?

Sandi #43
You are certainly no slouch when it comes to volume on this blog. So many questions, but I will stick to the main one.

To make a category judgment on who is a Protestant or Catholic or Atheist, or a doctor or lawyer, etc., is an intellectual judgment, completely distinct from judging the soul of a person. Only the latter is to be avoided, per the teaching of Christ. To avoid intellectual judgments is to stop thinking. For example, to state that slavery is wrong or sex-selection abortion is a war on women in the womb is making a judgment on the intellectual level. To say a lot of people who call themselves Catholic use contraception, cheat on their spouses or lie is also an intellectual judgment, correct or not on the statistics, not a judgment of their state with God, who alone judges the soul. Colleen made the intellectual judgment that some people say they are Catholics when they are atheists. Is she being judgmental?

As Colleen said, she expects there are atheists in the Pew Forum responding as Catholics, so I have a question for you. Would it be too much if the Pew Forum asked just one follow-up question when people respond yes to the question ''Are you Catholic?'' “Do you consider yourself a believing committed Catholic or a cultural Catholic?” That would be very informative and not hard to do, though I don't think this blog would like the result.
JR #42
I too have great admiration for the Jesuit tradition, and the great founders and martyrs and faithful teachers. I am saddened that some have lost their way, especially when it comes to their fourth vow (fidelity to the Magisterium). Maybe, in the coming ''Year of Faith'' there should be special mission to the Jesuits?
Sandi Sinor | 9/30/2012 - 2:32pm
Tim (#40),

You have proposed that pollsters ''quiz'' self-identified Catholics using a set of questions as a litmus test to determine if they are ''Catholic'' - at least if they are "Catholic" in the minds of some self-appointed judges. You seem to have proposed this because you didn't like the results of a pre-election survey showing that Obama is leading Romney with Catholic voters. I may be wrong, but I doubt you would have raised the issue of how ''Catholic'' these Catholic respondents are if Romney were leading.

As a practical matter, who would decide which questions should be asked? Who decides what the ''right'' answers might be?  Is a ''perfect'' score required to be considered ''Catholic''? What is a "passing" grade? What about someone who accepts the doctrines of the creed (along with the majority of all christians, so not really a "Catholic" litmus test), but disagree with the teaching that using modern birth control methods is "intrinsially evil" (that question alone would reduce the "Catholic" population in this country by 90%, since 90+% of all Catholics - including those who pass your litmus tests of weekly mass attendance, annual confession etc - use(d) modern birth control methods during their marriages with perfectly clear consciences).  Some of your questions apply to most christians - you could call a Baptist and he or she would agree that Christ is God and that he rose from the dead. Would you then identify that person as ''Catholic'' in your poll?  The same Baptist might agree that homosexual behavior is sinful - does that make him a ''Catholic'' in your eyes?

One teaching that is totally unique to the Roman Catholic church relates to infallibility - and Hans Kung's primary claim to fame is related to his dissent from the re-definition of infallibility that arose at Vatican I  (no Baptist would ever agree that the Roman Catholic pope or the Roman Catholic church are infallible). If the pope thinks Hans Kung is ''Catholic'' in spite of his ''notorious'' public dissent, and you say that you are not in a position to ''judge'' whether or not Hans Kung is ''Catholic'', then how can a Pew Research pollster ''judge'' whether or not any self-identified Catholic is ''Catholic'' enough to suit you?

BTW, your curious comment about only God being able to "judge" Kung (yet you want to "judge" the self-identified Catholics in the Pew poll) raises a question - do you believe that only Catholics can "go to heaven"? [the EENS teaching]

As far as ''judging'' goes, I can't link to the thread, but I do remember at one time you said that the reason you post here is because you fear that casual readers who don't know much about Catholicism could be in danger of being misled about what Catholicism really teaches - especially when some of those folk with SJ after their names post thoughts, concepts, ideas. and possibilities that don't fit into your personal set of ''correct'' Catholic beliefs - some people might think about what they say, because they are, after all, highly educated Catholic priests. Perhaps you didn't mean it this way, but that post came across as meaning that you have appointed yourself  as some kind of doctrinal purity watchdog on the America site - which implies that you are "judging" the blogs and readers posts, ready to "correct" interpretations you don't agree with. I'm surprised you haven't already risen up to ''correct'' Fr. Coleman's most recent post so that the unwary don't get the ''wrong'' idea about whether or not they are morally obligated to oppose legislation that would legalize CIVIL gay marriages.

Re my comment to Dan that you linked to. I did not say that you should not post on this site. I was simply commenting on the fact (so he could take it into consideration) that any poster who engages you had best be prepared to either continue posting ad infinitum, or to simply bow out, because you are one who never stops unless you have the last word.

It's nice of you to offer to stop calling me a "liberal", but actually I said nothing about asking you to stop identifying me as a ''liberal''.

 I did ask on what grounds you decided that I am a ''liberal.''  And I would like to know whether you believe I am a ''liberal'' in terms of church outlook or in terms of political outlook or both because sometimes you seem to be alluding to ''liberal'' in politics or ''liberal'' in the church - and specifically I am curious as to why and in which realms you concluded that I am a ''liberal.''

 Based on the content of your posts, using the ''shorthand'' you mention, I would indeed conclude that you are a ''conservative'' - both politically and in church-related matters. Is that conclusion incorrect?  Are you a ''liberal'' in some arenas? I would be interested to know more about those. I once knew a very ''conservative'' Catholic woman - totally ''faithful to the teachings of the magesterium'' - except in one area. She had a lot of empathy for gays - apparently because she was the mother of a gay person.  So she was what is commonly called a ''conservative'' Catholic in being obedient and giving assent to all official Catholic teachings - except in the one where her soul [some would say it was the Holy Spirit] informed her head on the matter.

I would also be curious to know if you accept Newman's beliefs about the sensus fidelium. And it would be helpful also to understanding your posts to know your definition of ''the church'' - especially when it comes to the oft-repeated reminder that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would always guide ''the church.''

I await your response.
J Cosgrove | 9/30/2012 - 11:00am

I follow these discussions on religion with interest but rarely comment on them.  I usually limit my comments to the politics on this site which there are many  The reason I came to this site was the result of some conversations with high school class mates at a reunion.  Not Jesuit taught by the way but Christian Brother taught who said you should see what they say on the America site.  Since I am one of a small percentage of my high school  classmates who were taught by the Christian Brothers and then went on to college at a Jesuit school, I decided to see what was being said at an official Jesuit site.

It was an eye opener.  It is nearly a 100% political site with a very liberal political philosophical bent with some religious topics thrown in.  A high percentage of the religious topics are encased in a political discussion as this one is.   They are obsessed with politics here, not religion.  There are some religion alone discussions but even a majority of them are in a framework of traditional (believing what the Church has taught for centuries) vs. non traditional (challenging one or many of these teachings.)  It is the authors here who interject the notions of right vs. left in the discussion and the term ''right wing'' Catholic has been used frequently and not in any fondness for the fact that they are referring to those who believe and uphold what the Church has taught for ages.

Often the religious topics will question such things as salvation, baptism, and the value of being a Catholic at all.  For many I can find no real reason to be a Catholic other than some part of the term suits them or that is just what they have been most of their life even though they may not have many beliefs that are traditionally Catholic.  I have used the concept that it is like belonging to a social club or a being a fan of a particular sports team as a way of describing their self designation as a Catholic.  It's fashionable for them.  One said they never go to Mass but then chastises others as not being true or good Catholics.  Another with SJ after his name said he actually believed in the Nicene Creed giving the impression that there are SJ's who do not believe in the Creed.  I asked can one be a Catholic and not believe in the Nicene Creed.  Silence.

So I read what is said on this site to see what others say so as to understand and learn just what are the problems for the Catholic Church.  It may not be a full spectrum of attitudes and beliefs but it is probably a good sample.   I notice that the Jesuits are very careful in what they say but often will phrase their OP's with ambiguity so one can read between the lines and say this is what they really believe.  This is not a place to convert or convince or even to be validated in one's faith.  This is a place to see what the various world views are and to know what is truly eating at the fabric of the Church.  

This is a place to see where there are Catholics who are not Christian.  What do I mean by that?  They identify as Catholics but do not believe Christ was God.  He was just a rather gifted philosopher who had a cult following who conned the locals and the rest is history.  Interesting the site the Jesuits run here and it keeps me coming back to see what new will be said here in the name of I do not know what.
Colleen Baker | 9/30/2012 - 9:55am
There is such a thing as a Catholic world view, and it's independent of practice.  Any cradle Catholic who was raised in the Church, especially in parochial schools, will view the world through a Catholic lense no matter the state of their current practice.  Catholic is not just a belief or a set of specific practices, it truly is it's own mindset.  A person can be as athiestic as they want, but if they were raised Catholic, they will be an atheist with a Catholic mindset.

If a person self indentifies as Catholic, they are acknowleding a personal truth about how they view the world, not necessarily what their current religious pratice is.  It bothers me sometimes when the definition of Catholic is reduced to membership in some kind of exclusive club. It's much more than that, good bad or indifferent.
Tim O'Leary | 9/29/2012 - 11:43pm
Sandi #39
I did say that Catholics should be defined by what they believe and practice, and not just by self-identification. But then I just raised some possibilities ''say 3-5...'' without explicitly defining them. Surely you're not saying that there are no doctrinal issues that a person could hold that would be incompatible with membership in the Catholic Church? For example, are you aware that performing an abortion is by canon law (#1398) an automatic excommunication?

I even mentioned the divinity of Jesus and the Resurrection. Is that already too much for you? If so, then you have a very fluid idea of Catholicism and Christianity (like the Episcopalians or Unitarians). My point again is that just saying one is Catholic is completely insufficient to determine if one is Catholic for scientific polling analysis and determining ''what Catholics think'' about an issue.

I certainly wouldn't judge Hans Kung and will leave that to God and His Church. I don't know what he believes about the resurrection but I hope he believes it was real, etc.

As to some of the minor questions:
Liberal-conservative is a short-hand way for defining the opposing groups in today's Church (see Ross Douthat article) and politics but I agree the terms are imprecise and leave much to be desired. So, I am happy to accept you are not a liberal and I trust you will not call me a conservative either.
As to your prior complaining about my posting, here is a link to ''After the Fortnight'' and your comment #37
Fr. Arius was the priest who set off the Arian heresy, the greatest threat to the Church ever.
MSM as Ed Gleason used it means Mainstream Media, meaning the dominant media with a liberal bias.
Sandi Sinor | 9/29/2012 - 7:13pm
OK, Tim, let's parse your post and then perhaps see how someone could interpret it as implying that you are trying to narrow the self-identified Catholics who responded to a poll into groups you would call ''not really'' Catholic and ''really'' Catholic.

  It would be interesting in a poll to ask all self-identified Catholics what they believe on say 3-5 items on doctrine (such as: Is Jesus God? Did he truly and physically rise from the dead? Is the bread at Communion his real body? Did Mary ever sin? ...) and 3-5 on morality (abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, divorce, ...) and on practice (weekly attendence, annual confession, marriage in the Church...). Then we could really know what Catholics think about this election.

From this statement, I concluded (perhaps wrongly - but reasonably I think) that for you, a poll of self-identified Catholics is meaningless in terms of what ''Catholics'' think because unless they answer your approved questions on doctrine, morality and practice a specific way, you would rule out the answers of some of the self-identified Catholics as indicating what ''Catholics'' think about this election. I concluded (perhaps wrongly - but reasonably) that in your mind, the poll must weed out Catholics according to a set of ''approved'' answers in order to know what ''Catholics think''. This implies a judgment by you of which self-identified Catholics are ''Catholic.''

Perhaps you would like to clarify?

Next - you continue to throw up the red herring of irrelevant people (who is Fr. Arius anyway?) while avoiding answering my direct question about Fr. Kung. So I will ask you again - if Fr. Kung was an American instead of Swiss and he answered a pollster's telephone call and self-identified as a Catholic, and his answers did not conform to whatever you think a ''Catholic'' should answer on your selected questions, would you include his views as part of what ''Catholics think about this election.''?  

You admit that Catholic thought reflects a spectrum of opinion - do you think that only those on the ''C'' side of that spectrum are the ''Catholics'' whose answers to a poll reflect ''Catholic'' opinion?

I did not ask about the ''liberal'' Catholics on the site's opinion of Paul Ryan's proposed budget. I don't know if some have stated that he is not a ''real'' Catholic. I don't read every blog nor every comment. But I no more believe that ''liberal'' Catholics should judge others as not being ''real'' Catholics than I think ''conservative'' Catholics should judge liberals as not being ''real'' Catholics .(However, I do see this kind of judgment coming from ''conservative'' Catholics far more frequently than from ''liberal'' Catholics about their more conservative brethren).

I did not ask about Paul Ryan, but I did ask you why you said

1) that I have ''complained'' about you posting on this site. I asked you to cite a post where I made such a complaint, but you have not done so.

2) and I asked why you labeled me as a ''liberal''? You have not answered that either. 

You have offered a definition for ''liberals'' and ''conservatives'' in the church, and agree there is a spectrum of opinion when it comes to church teachings - however, ALL who are on that spectrum are Catholics - including those who are ''L'' - are they not? You would not dispute that the ''L'' Catholics are ''Catholic'' if they self-identified as ''Catholic'' in a poll? Or would you? 

Also - you seem to conflate being a ''liberal'' within the Catholic church and being a ''liberal'' in terms of politics.  For some, the world doesn't break down in such  a totally black and white fashion.
Tim O'Leary | 9/29/2012 - 6:13pm
Sandi #37
You are misunderstanding my point. I re-read my posts above and do not find one where I judge anyone. I do my best to draw a hard line between judging a sin and not a sinner. I also have not appointed myself to judge anyone, but defer to God and His Church on that. But on this post, I am just bemoaning how an opinion pollster defines a Catholic. While you didn’t come out directly on this, I think you have moved your definition from “anyone baptized” to anyone baptized and still self-identifying as Catholic. So, that definition would cover Fr. Arius and Fr. Lefebvre, King Henry VIII and Martin Luther, who went to their graves believing they were Catholic. It also includes people who are cultural Catholics but do not practice and even do not believe in things like the divinity of Christ or the resurrection. In other words, people who are not even Christian by any logical measure.

My problem is that your definition does not seem to provide much useful information, as the group of self-identifiers is almost identical to the population as a whole, and the idea of a Catholic vote with this definition is meaningless.
On the question of liberal or conservative, these terms in the Church have the common meaning of those who L) do not accept the Church’s teaching on many matters and C) who accept the Church’s teaching (even if not following it faithfully). It is a spectrum rather than two groups. As regards tolerance and judgmentalism, the L side of the spectrum on this blog certainly wanted to rule Paul Ryan out of the Church because of his budget.
Tim O'Leary | 9/28/2012 - 11:40pm
Ed #33
I was making a more general point about the limits of polling by religious affiliation, but I guess it triggered your partisan peeve. Garbage in garbage out was my point.

But I can do partisan too. The teleprompter president will do fine in the debates. He will say sorry for the last 4 years and he will promise to do better in the next 4, at least in golf.

I hope the majority will not get fooled again. In the end, we always get the president we deserve, God help us.

Jobs, debt, gas, peace, freedom. Change is our only Hope.
ed gleason | 9/28/2012 - 11:18pm
Tim, Yes we have all heard that the polling is a MSM conspiracy. Even Fox News is in on it now. MSM is now 'fixing' the debate next Wednesday as Obama's 'handlers' have made up a list of every possible  question to be asked. He will ask for a TelePrompTer to be setup  at the last second... something like Eastwood's chair.  
Tim O'Leary | 9/28/2012 - 9:07pm
I went into the Pew Forum site to see how they collect their information. It is by telephone, land phone and cell. Those who are willing to speak to a pollster are already self-selected in some way and not fully representative of the general populaiton.

 It appears that one gets into a religious group by self-identification. So, one could say they are a Catholic but mean it by birth, by practice, by culture, etc. So, it is a highly dubious classification. I am sure there are more Evangelicals who by belief and practice are more Catholic than the many cultural Catholics. 

At least Church attendance has some practical relevance. It would be interesting in a poll to ask all self-identified Catholics what they believe on say 3-5 items on doctrine (such as: Is Jesus God? Did he truly and physically rise from the dead? Is the bread at Communion his real body? Did Mary ever sin? ...) and 3-5 on morality (abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, divorce, ...) and on practice (weekly attendence, annual confession, marriage in the Church...). Then we could really know what Catholics think about this election. For now, we know very little apart from the weekly attendance numbers.

Vince Killoran | 9/28/2012 - 4:42pm
"So the answer to the question I asked is that you have no proof of either Dolan or the USCCB saying that "the very existence of the faith would collapse" if the President were re-elected."

They made two assertions, and they are connected. The first was that the HHS guidelines released by the Obama Administration would result in the end of religious liberty and they must be opposed with maximum effort; the second was that Catholic voters must separate a small number of issues from the other ones and apply special attention to them when voting.

Here's what I wrote in #24: ""[S]ee the already-prepared "homily notes" on the USCCB website for Nov. 4, 2012. In the last section the bishops note that Catholics must make “important distinctions among moral issues acknowledging that some of these issues involve the clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never be justified and that others require action to pursue justice and promote the common good.”  The "moral issues" that they identify are abortion, birth control, and gay marriage.  You connect the dots."

Re. your final point, I would ask: does Romney oppose "extrajudicial, extraterritorial assassinations of American citizens?" if you are looking for my opposition with BO on issues I can assure you that I have many disagreements.

Guys, it's been fun but it's the weekend. Enjoy. 
Joshua DeCuir | 9/28/2012 - 3:26pm
"Do they say "do not vote for BO"? Not in those words"

So the answer to the question I asked is that you have no proof of either Dolan or the USCCB saying that "the very existence of the faith would collapse" if the President were re-elected.

Just wanting to make sure. 

" The "moral issues" that they identify are abortion, birth control, and gay marriage.  You connect the dots."

If I'm not mistaken, they also have been critical of Paul Ryan's budget.  At least that's what Sr. Simone told me during the DNC - you know when she endorsed Pres. Obama on grounds of his standing for justice.

Guess she hasn't read and responded to the Conor Friedersdorf's article either.  Does social justice include the President's claims to extrajudicial, extraterritorial assassinations of American citizens?  Or are we supposed to ignore that?
J Cosgrove | 9/28/2012 - 3:16pm
''Re. Cosgrove's persistence in historical error please note that federal spending as GDP for 1933 was 22.38; for 1937 it was 18.74. Realizing the mistake and the slide back into depression government spending climbed back up to 20.53 in 1938 & 20.66 in 1939. It didn't really reach the necessary high levels until WWII when it peaked at a whopping 52.94 in 1945.''

I am sorry but you make my point when you use a bait and switch.  I gave actual government expenditures and you divert to some other measure that wasn't even used then.  GDP is a macro economic concept and macroeconomics didn't become popular till later years as a result of the work of Keynes.  GDP didn't become an accepted measure till during WWII.  It is possible to go back and examine GDP till the late 1700's but they didn't use that measure for anything during the 1930's so they didn't change anything because of it.  And besides they didn't increase spending anyway by any significant amount.

So what you are saying is nonsense.  They did not cut back on spending, they increased it over previous years except for the money Roosevelt used to buy the 1936 election which didn't go into anything really productive.  Spending during 1937-1939 was fairly similar and substantially above 1933-1935.  The recession ended with little increase in spending.  Nothing you say is consistent with the concept that lack of spending caused the 1937 recession nor spending got one out of it.
Tim O'Leary | 9/28/2012 - 2:43pm
Vince #19
Up to your old spinning tricks again? As regards your comment on the USCCB, you might be technically correct that the word HHS doesn’t appear in a headline. I just went to the home page, where I see the following:

Top of their home page: ''October 14 Mass and Pilgrimage for Life and Liberty''
Lower down on the same home page: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
Over on the left: Cardinal Dinardo Urges Renewed Commitment To Defending Human Life In 2012
Here is the link to the USCC

Also, from the Catholic News Agency 5 days ago: Thousands join grassroots women's movement opposing HHS mandate
You can keep up on the Religious Freedom issue at this site dedicated to the fight
Rick #25
You are always in over your head when it comes to moral theology but you still opine anyway. Are you an economist (or just a lawyer)?
Every election, liberals put out polls assuring their side of a win, and always are surprised with the result, because the vote was much closer than they thought or because they lost, as happened in 2010, 2004, 2000…
Rick Fueyo | 9/28/2012 - 1:54pm
"But I have just shown that there was no turn to austerity."
No, you didn't. it's a simple? ?f?u?n?c?t?i?o?n? ?o?f? ?m?a??t?h????.?????
You are in over your head on substantive economic discussions, even if the water is only a foot deep
Vince Killoran | 9/28/2012 - 1:49pm
Josh-Why not ask me to provide proof instead of accusing me of "making it up for political points"?

Here's one of the many quotes from Dolan:

"NY Archbishop and Cardinal-Designate Timothy Dolan described the move as, 'the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.'  Dolan, who is also the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, went on to say the move was 'unconscionable' and that it 'represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.'
Dolan, and the Church, is calling for HHS to reverse their decision.
'The Obama administration has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” he said. 'The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation. We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision.'"

Do they say "do not vote for BO"? Not in those words-but see the already-prepared "homily notes" on the USCCB website for Nov. 4, 2012. In the last section the bishops note that Catholics must make “important distinctions among moral issues acknowledging that some of these issues involve the clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never be justified and that others require action to pursue justice and promote the common good.”  The "moral issues" that they identify are abortion, birth control, and gay marriage.  You connect the dots.

BTW, any "lines in the sand" have been drawn by the USCCB & their supporters. They ramped up the rhetoric and got their meager troops to the battle lines in the spring but are nowhere to be seen just now.  Of course, there's still time yet. I know our parish priest will give it at least another go before election day.  But then what? Will they announce the end-of-the-world as we know it? Apologize for the hyperbole? Probably "no" to both.  Their credibility is pretty low as a result of this & the sex abuse scandal.

Re. Cosgrove's persistence in historical error please note that federal spending as GDP for 1933 was 22.38; for 1937 it was 18.74. Realizing the mistake and the slide back into depression government spending climbed back up to 20.53 in 1938 & 20.66 in 1939. It didn't really reach the necessary high levels until WWII when it peaked at a whopping 52.94 in 1945.

Your characterization of Professor Brinkley is hilarious.  When faced with facts try to smear the experts right?

NOW we can get back to the election.
Helen Deines | 9/28/2012 - 12:15pm
The most conservative bishops and Cardinal Dolan, in their fervor, their intellectual dishonesty and revisionist history, have been Barack Obama's best campaign staff.  Perhaps we will see a return of spiritual leaders who remember the unique gifts of our Catholic faith.  

Thanks you, Nuns on the Bus and your sisters and supporters, who kept your sanity when so many around you lost their center.
Joshua DeCuir | 9/28/2012 - 12:13pm
"You're right John-remember all the terrified rhetoric of the spring, i.e., the very existence of the Faith would collapse if BO was re-elected?"

Would you (or someone) provide the exact quote wherein the USCCB - or Card. Dolan - stated that the re-election of the President posed a fundamental threat to the faith?  I think you're making it up for political points.

Whether or not the President wins, it doesn't change the fact that the HHS mandate - which remains unchanged yet - is a lamentable policy that changes the traditional relationship of the federal government to religious institutions.

Whether or not the President wins, doesn't immunize him from criticism over how he views religious liberty under the First Amendment.  Remember, his administration lost a religious liberty case NINE to ZERO in the Supreme Court, with an argument that even his own former Solicitor General characterized as "amazing" in its obtuseness.

I'd take supporters of the President a bit more seriously if they didn't tend to view the election as a zero-sum determination between the all-good, all-knowing, all-wise President and those evil, short-sighted, greedy bishops.  As Conor Friedersdorf's article points out (which remains unacknowledged by Catholic progressives thus far), Pres. Obama's moral record is certainly worthy of criticism, not white-washing. 
Rick Fueyo | 9/28/2012 - 11:05am
"Alan Brinkley is a left wing ideologue and it seems a dishonest one if he says it was reduced government spending that caused the recession which means all those who agree with him are suspect to their honesty about the cause of Roosevelt's stumble."

As President Clinton would say, it's just a matter of arithmetic. Or as Stephen Colbert would say, reality has a well-known liberal bias.
There was a significant turn to austerity in 1937, which is a significant causal effect with a recession/depth at that time frame. But there is an equally significant cottage industry of professional prevaricators on the right who seek to unlearn the lessons of the Great depression in order to rationalize and otherwise plainly a moral worldview.
Those who need to believe it cannot be convinced, but it remains the truth
Joseph J Dunn | 9/28/2012 - 8:31am
The article we are all blogging about reports a poll of likely Catholic voters in the coming election, in which unemployment, poverty, and the economy are obvious issues. So, the history of Catholics voting in similar previous elections, and the consequences of those votes, are relevant.  As Catholics, we have a duty in stewardship, in charity, and in justice, to consider all of these issues carefully for the common good. A good book, like a good article, calls our attention to information and to propsitions that challenge our thinking about methods, to achieve our goals and avoid mistakes that imperil the least fortunate among us.
J Cosgrove | 9/27/2012 - 11:35pm
This discussion is way of topic but to set some things straight before we move on.  Some facts

1. Mr. Morgenthau was Secretary of the Treasury and if he was as Alan Brinkley says, incompetent, what does that say about his boss, Franklin D Roosevelt?  Roosevelt had surrounded himself with a lot of incompetent people.  One economist said about Roosevelt that he made good speeches and that is not to be underestimated but he made lousy economic decisions.

2. Mr Morgenthau made the statement which probably reflected FDR's thoughts and a lot of others in the government.

3. The year was 1939 so Morgenthau was assessing 6 1/2 years of economic activity by the Roosevelt government and his comment was probably an honest assessment of what had happened since Roosevelt had taken office.

4. The government did reduce spending in 1937 but not by much and it was higher in 1937 than in 1933-1935.  If spending was high in 1937 then it is hard to pin the recession on low spending.

1934 - $6.5 billion
1935 - $6.4 billion
1936 - $8.2 billion
1937 - $7.6 billion

Why so much in 1936.  Roosevelt spent the money to buy the 1936 election.  In August of 1936 public opinion favored Landon but then Roosevelt released an onslaught of money before the election and won in a landslide.  Good old fashion vote buying.  Roosevelt bought his good name in history by prolonging the Depression.

So it is a myth that lack of spending caused the 1937 depression.  One has to look elsewhere to find the causes.  One cause was they raised taxe rates in 1936.  Another cause was business never knew what they were going to do next so this caused tremendous uncertainty in business which reduced investment substantially.  Another cause was a large increase of gold into the US from Europe which was getting very panicked and this caused inflation.  Another cause was high union wages  many new government regulations which made a lot of business unprofitable.

These likely explanations are inconvenient today because supposedly stimulus creates a rosy economic environment.  But as we know that is not true.

Alan Brinkley is a left wing ideologue and it seems a dishonest one if he says it was reduced government spending that caused the recession which means all those who agree with him are suspect to their honesty about the cause of Roosevelt's stumble.  Spending was at a high level.  It did not decrease from the high growth years.  And we got a large drop in economic activity.  Funny thing about those stimului.

Maybe we should leave this alone now since this OP is about Catholic support of Obama and not 1930's failed economic polices. 
Patricia Bergeron | 9/27/2012 - 5:57pm
Mr. Brooks, I'll add one more: filet the fish, throw the bones to the poor, and keep the rest for yourself. Then you qualify as a conservatice republican.
Mike Brooks | 9/27/2012 - 5:47pm
Here's a good article for poll-happy ed gleason on how Carter beat Reagan in 1980: 

I seem to remember a bunch of polls in 2010 proclaiming that the Dems were going to hold on to the House and lose no seats in the Senate.  And most recently, I saw the polls in North Carolina claiming that the vote on a constitutional amendment to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman was going to be close; it passed by more than 20%.  That last one should be particulalry concerning for Dems, with gay marriage in the official party platform.

I think Democrats are going to be unhappily surprised this November.
Mike Brooks | 9/27/2012 - 5:33pm
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for the rest of his life.  Promise him a fish every day of his life and you make him a Democrat.  Give over 50% of the voting population a fish every day, you'll have a Democrat POTUS for the remainder of the abbreviated life of the Republic.
Vince Killoran | 9/27/2012 - 5:16pm
With all due respect Mr. Dunn you are incorrect and your book is not the product of a peer-reviewed scholarly process. I am not familiar with the press that published your work, "CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform."

p.s. Re. Cosgrove's Morgenthau quote: Morganthau was the deficit hawk who pulled FDR into this late '30s mess. Please do consult Alan Brinkley's THE END OF REFORM. Brinkley is an historian at Columbia and a world-class scholar on the New Deal.  You will not find any scholars who disagree with this basic assessment of FDR's "stumble."
Joshua DeCuir | 9/27/2012 - 2:41pm
Glad Brett Kieran linked to Conor Friedersdorf's article; I keep searching in vain for a response from Catholic liberals who support Obama, they tell me, on moral grounds.  Obama has been much worse with respect to the war on terror than Bush, so you'd expect SOME objections.  So far, though, crickets (or, rather, a fusillade against Romney about Ayn Rand, etc.).
Vince Killoran | 9/27/2012 - 2:17pm
What a treat to watch conservatives squirm and explain this away (e.g., these are "real" Catholics, they are brainwashed, etc.).

As for Joseph Dunn's claims (recycled from Shlaes THE FORGOTTEN MAN-a book with absolutely no credibility by scholars), the unemployment rate jumped in '39 because FDR listened to the deficit hawks and cut government spending!  When WWII began government spending skyrocekted and pulled the country out the Depression for good. 
Carlos Orozco | 9/27/2012 - 1:59pm
Post-Constitutional voters re-elected George I in 2004, why would they not do the same with Barack I in 2012?
Anonymous | 9/27/2012 - 1:41pm
I love watching propaganda in the morning!

The video speaks much louder by what it does not say. It avoids the fact that Obama is against Catholics and the Church on almost every major issue: life issues (he is the most pro-abortion president in history - every speaker at the Dem convention promoted/extolled abortion on demand), on the religious liberty issue, marriage, torture, war and the use of drones to kill US and foreign citizens without due process....

Here is a good article for those thinking of voting for this unethical politician:
Vince Killoran | 10/2/2012 - 8:57am
"I tend to require stronger proof than simple self-identification."

Yeah, and we all know that scientists never produce conflicting results.

"Did people change their minds in the last week or did the selection process of respondents change?"

I'm certain it's the latter with additional factors such as wording.  If you're interested in discussing "Polling 101" please contact me. The point is that the Pew method is unremarkable.

Sandi Sinor | 9/29/2012 - 4:08pm
Tim #36, it is interesting that you think I ''complain a lot'' that you are on this site. I have made no more than about dozen posts on America's website ever I think, and don't recall that I ever said you should not be on this site. Could you please cite a specific post where I said that you should not be posting on this site? 

 I do admit that I have responded to some of your more sweeping judgments at times. Perhaps the reason you spur me to post when the posts of others here don't (including many who see Catholicism as you do) is that you seem often to set yourself up as someone who has some kind of ''right'' to judge others - someone who decides whether other posters (or those who respond to polls in this case) are really Catholic - under your own personal definition. 

Those who self-identify as athiests or agnostics, or who have become active in another christian or non-christian faith, or who self-identify as ''none'' or as ''spiritual but not religious'' will not likely identify themselves as ''Catholic'' in a poll.  You object to people self-identifying as Catholic if they do not share your personal understanding of Catholicism. You wish to limit the definition of ''Catholic''  to those who conform to YOUR set of ''correct'' responses to a narrow set of questions. The reality is this - among those who are baptized in the Catholic church and who self-identify as Catholics - and not as athiests, agnostics, Baptists, Episcopalians, Muslims, Jews etc, etc, etc - have just as much ''right'' as do you to self-identify as Catholic. Your example of Dawkins, Hitler et al is a form of red herring, but I suspect that you know that.

Father Hans Kung dissents from many Catholic teachings. Yet the pope has not only never excommunicated him, he has even had him as a guest to lunch. He is a Roman Catholic priest in good standing. But if a pollster called him and he told them he is Catholic,  you would likely judge that  his opinion doesn't count as a ''real' Catholic because he dissents from some current Catholic teachings. Tim, it is not up to you to judge who is a ''real'' Catholic and who isn't - on this website or in a pre-election poll. You have a perfect right to post here - but you do not have the right to judge who is or is not Catholic.

Some Catholics judge other Catholics because they lack sufficient knowledge of the history of the Catholic church and of the development of doctrine. These Catholics also sometimes veer towards a dangerous fundamentalist religious mindset that is more often seen in some denominations of protestantism than in Catholicism.

BTW, why do you assume that I am a ''liberal''?

Am I a ''liberal'' in your eyes because I don't think you have the right to judge who is a ''real'' Catholic and who isn't - and especially perhaps because I object to this kind of judgmentalism on the part of some Catholics? Fortunately, not all ''conservative'' Catholics believe that they are God (or that they are the pope) and have a ''right'' to judge the minds and souls of other Catholics.

 I have not weighed in on this election - I have not indicated even by a hint in my posts which candidate I will vote for. So, would you please enlighten me as to how you have come to your judgment that I am a ''liberal''?  And while you are at it, could you please define what YOU mean by the term ''liberal''
Thank you.
Vince Killoran | 9/28/2012 - 4:34pm
"GDP is a macro economic concept and macroeconomics didn't become popular till later years as a result of the work of Keynes.  GDP didn't become an accepted measure till during WWII."

I can only assume that you're having a little pre-weekend fun Cosgrove. A cold beer is a good way to get that started.

Anyways, it doesn't matter when GDP "became an accepted measure" because we use it today to examine the relationship of government spending to the total economy. It's a good metric to use in doing economic history. Further, as you know, Keynes was at the height of his career. The New Deal administration was divided between the Morgenthau crowd and the Keynesians. 

FDR insisted on a balanced budget in '37. The cuts to "emergency" programs were especially sharp.  The economic nosedive began about six months later. There's scholarly consensus on this but conservative journalists and activists (and some Milton Friedman disciples) don't accept it because they would have to admit that deficit spending worked to bring the nation out of the Great Depresssion.
JOHN SULLIVAN | 9/28/2012 - 9:06am
Just another indication of how far out of touch Dolan et. al. are with those in the pew. So much for the faux "religious liberty" issue.
Sandi Sinor | 9/27/2012 - 7:59pm
Mr. Killoran, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform provides a mechanism for writers to self-publish their books.  The only editorial review of the book on Amazon is Kirkus Indie Reviews, which is a group that will - for a fee - provide an ''honest'' review of self-published books by anonymous reviewers who may or may not be qualified as far as content goes. The author was an agent with an insurance company for 30 years. He has some executive education training (continuing education) in business from reputable schools, but no relevant degrees are mentioned.
I have not read the book, and so hesitate to judge it, but as an economist I would guess that while the factual/statistical information in the book is probably accurate the analysis may not reflect much depth or breadth of knowledge of economics - based on the very little information and analysis given in the posts here.
ed gleason | 9/27/2012 - 4:59pm
Imagine the polls are now showing a pending devastating GOP defeat and Joseph Dunn is still campaigning against a 4 term FDR who led us out of the depression  Who are these campaigning conservatives that are rooting for Romney?
Remember in the 90s it was "The Economy.. Stupid'?
Now it's The Polls Stupid. The majority of Catholics will vote for Obama because they don't believe the GOP rhetoric and don't believe the GOP ever overturning Roe/Wade. B. Kieren says " 'he {Obama] is the most pro-abortion president in history'.. no he is not... Reagan was.. in the sixties he signed first state OK abortion law in Ca. and did diddly in 8 years as president. He wins worst title even though Romney flipped flopped even more than Reagan. O!!! and people liked Reagan.
J Cosgrove | 10/2/2012 - 8:13pm
I realized my previous post was about a rather long blog post and not an article in the magazine.
D M | 10/1/2012 - 2:48pm
High support for Obama among Catholics is a deeper commentary into the failure of proper catechesis the past few decades. The Church and the Bishops only have themselves to blame. Anyone know the numbers for active Catholics attending weekly mass?